Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ambitions unlimited!

Ambition does not allow a man to sleep!
An oft repeated set of words that are spoken with renewed commitment and passion everytime the mind decides to make a statement and partners with the mouth to let out a stream of words that convey a meaning so powerful that it has built empires, made people emporers of the modern day corporate kingdoms and dynasties.
What does ambition really translate to mean to a person? Or perhaps what does it not mean?

I hadn't heard of Lee Iacocca before the year 1999 and when I did, I wanted to be someone like him. Now, that was ambition. In this blog, I'm going to sum his life for you and also state a few excerpts from his autobiography which have inspired a long list of people (me included)
Read on;

Lee Iacocca was born on October 15, 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His actual name was Lido Anthony Iacocca.
In his autobiography, Iacocca points out:
"Over the years a number of journalists have reported (or repeated) that my parents went to Lido Beach in Venice for their honeymoon and that I was named Lido to commemorate that happy week. It's a wonderful story, except for one thing: it's not true."
Lee Iacocca's father owned a hot-dog restaurant called the Orpheum Wiener House. He also expanded into other businesses, but the Great Depression was tough on the Iacocca family and Lee has said that the experience had a lasting influence on him.
In August 1946 Iacocca started at Ford as a student engineer. In 1956 he made a major breakthrough. Sales of Fords were poor, and Iacocca's district, Philadelphia had the worst performance of all, but he introduced a lower downpayment and an easier payment schedule for the customer. Within three months Philadelphia's figures moved from worst to best. Iacocca was promoted to district manager of Washington, D.C.
On September 29, 1956 Iacocca married Mary McCleary and for many years things went well. Lee Iacocca quickly rose up the ranks at Ford and, in 1976, Iacocca was earning $970,000 per annum as number two in the number two company (more than the chairman of Genral Motors). He cites his "greed" and the huge salary as one of the reasons why he put up with an increasingly antagonistic, Henry Ford II. Eventually in 1978 Ford and Iacocca parted company.
Iacocca became president (1978) and then chairman (1979) of the Chrysler Corporation. He transformed the ailing company. To do so he needed to take out a staggering $1.2billion loan.
There is an irony in this. His father was always warning Lee as a boy not to get into hock, and if he ever borrowed anything, even 20 cents, to write it down and not forget to pay it back. As Iacocca wrote in his autobiography:
"I often wondered how he would have reacted if he'd lived long enough to see me go into hock in 1981 to keep the Chrysler Corporation in business. This was for a lot more than 20 cents: the total came to $1.2 billion. Although I recalled my father's advice, I had a funny feeling this was one loan I'd remember even without writing it down."
In 1984, Lee Iacocca established the Iacocca Foundation in 1984 in honour of his wife, Mary, who died from complications of type 1 diabetes. The Foundation receives all royalties from both of Iacocca's best-selling books, Iacocca (1984), and Talking Straight (1988).
The Iaccocca Foundation has given more than $20 million to diabetes research.

Ever heard people quip about official stuff and then singing attributes such as 'nothing personal about it? '
Well, clear track II diplomacy tactic I would say, for everything that man builds as a result of realizing his dreams. needs, wants, comforts and so on..................................every single thing is a result of the strongest of personal desires, the very same that makes one lose sleep over idea of making one's life better than the best and better than the ordinary.
It is a tiny yet formidable force, one that is conceptualized in the heavy tubular intricacy of the human mind, the same force that English calls Ambition!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A dream comes true!

2005 was in many ways a year that ushered in a number of welcome changes. Among the many things that happened, one of the memorable of them was my trip to the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve. Located in the newly created Indian state of Uttaranchal (formerly northern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh), this vast expanse of 1300 sq. kms. was established a park in August 1936. It is a part of the Corbett tiger reserve which lies in the foothills of the mightly Himalayas within the districts of Nainital, Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Binjore. The park itself is divided into different zones out of which the Buffer and the Core form an integral part. While the Core area forms the Park itself, the buffer area contains the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and reserve forests.
It was originally called the Hailey National Park after the then Governor of the United Province (Uttar Pradesh), Sir Malcolm Hailey. Post independence in the year 1947, the park was renamed the Ramganga National Park and then in 1957, the park was once again renamed. It now became known as the Jim Corbett National Park in memory of the legendary hunter turned conservationist, who was largely responsible for marking out the park boundaries and helped in setting up the park.
My first brush with the name Jim Corbett was in the year 1992 while in Class Eight, when I chanced upon the book, The Maneating Leapord of Rudraprayag. I was fascinated by the book as a kid especially since I had a very keen sense of interest in nature and big cats. Having completed the book in a matter of days, I had then wished for the day that would see me come face to face with one of the most beautiful landscapes one could set foot on. Apart from having been an astute hunter of man-eaters, Jim Corbett was a man who knew more about the Indian jungles than many Indian 'experts' themselves. What made him more interesting was his lucid and picturesque description in words of his days in India as a hunter and later a dedicated conservationist.
I knew not that my chance to visit this magnificient place would come 13 long years later and when it did, I jumped at the prospect. Having formed a group of ten, we set out to visit the park immediately after the monsoons had expired, giving way to the winter which was slowly finding into many parts of the Indian subcontinent. The weather was very pleasant and proved conducive for such a visit. Weeks of planning had gone into making this dream a reality and although I must confess that a stay of two days was terribly short, I did enjoy the whole trip with enthusiasm and fervor like never before. Bodhi, my flatmate was kind enough to lend me a very powerful pair of field lenses that once belonged to his father who during his times was an eminent sportsman in many senses. Like the many times I would attribute many a good thing to luck and adherence to sound advise, I believe that having carried the Carl Ziess binoculars rewarded me abundantly the description of events which I shall present to you at a later stage on this very post.
We grouped together to begin an overnight train journey which would transport us from New Delhi to Ranikhet on the evening of 24rth November 2005. As planned we reached Ranikhet early next morning and began a short drive straight into the heart of Tiger country.
My dream was coming true and I was enthralled. We reached our resort at daybreak and the winter air was inviting and brought about a huge sense of liberation. I pray to Almighty night and day that I find a place as such to spend the rest of my life. Folklore was the pivot of this place and immediately upon reaching, we were 'informed' of the most recent happenings that were witnessed in the immediate surroundings. Tales of a Tiger falling victim to rabies and wrecking havoc among the village-folks was among the first that I was told along with incidents of a Tiger carrying away a cow, a dog, goats and also a young boy. While the description of these incidents were exaggerated beyond proportion, we came to realize that they had indeed happened!

During the months preceding our vist, wide-spread protests echoed across the nation protesting the merciless poaching of Tigers in the Indian National Parks. Siriska and Ranthambore were at high risk. To make matters worse, the government took no steps to prevent this callous slaughter of our national animal and was engaged mostly in refuting the call of many environmentalists and conservationists who warned of imminent danger. Finally after much wrangling, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) stepped in to mitigate the damage and recommended a commission be setup to determine the extent of damage. With all the histrionics unfolding in one nasty form or the other, what it meant to us tourists was a grim and unsettling reality - we could traverse the entire expanse of the park and yet return without having seen a tiger!

A daunting yet real possiblity, I still felt thrilled being present in Tiger country. Seeing one was indeed a very luxurious perquiste that I honestly thought would not happen and which even if did not, would not in any manner dent my state of penultimate bliss.
The first day passed with a short trek with an enthusiatistic few while the 'others' fell into a restful slumber as a result of the night long train journey. Fortune favors the brave and the adventurous! Presently, brave and adventurous was a very potent, desirable and an equally tiring combination.
Having climbed a dusty beaten path to see the magnificence of the mighty river Kosi, we the enthusiastic few were now devoid of the last sap of energy left and soon decided to return to the comforts of our resort where a sumptous lunch awaited us. Anyone who is part of a BPO operation knows very well that time and food had no relationship what so ever and thus what would have ordinarily been a heavy dinner for a casual onlooker turned out to be a well-laid lunch to the brady bunch who after having braved the adventure under the sharp winter sun with an atmospheric combination that consisted air atleast 20% thinner when compared to normal conditions decided the best course of action to be a filled stomach!
The day's adventure had not come to a close. Not yet. How could one wrap the day without soaking oneself in the bloodchilling waters of the Kosi?
With darkness came a very eerie series of calls and cries which would still any human being and make the already timid imagination run wild with scary thoughts of a leopard or a Tiger lurking in the bushes! Thankfully, that night, thoughts remained disconcerted from reality and nature showed abundant kindness by safely tucking each one of us into bed without much incident.

A thumping knock on your door at 03:00 am on a winter morning is no welcome news no matter what the purpose, especially after having grown comfortable in the sinking and relaxing bedding with heating only due to the warmth of of your own body.
But, up we had to be since we were scheduled to be part of an early morning safari right into the heart of Tiger country - the inner zone of the park. Without wasting much of the early morning and well before the Sun could rise over the horizon we were already being driven into the divine journey, rather pilgrimage, the very reason of our being there!
Driving into the park, we were welcomed by a flock of Siberian cranes, birds that had travelled +2000 kms across Mongolia, Kazakstan, Pakistan and the NWFP to find momentary comfort and residence in this Indian abode where they would spend all but a few weeks in comfort far away from the agonizing winters of Siberia. A lone miniature Indian Kingfisher sat at the edge of a muddy pool in wait for a morning meal while a family of Indian Rhesus Macaques were readying themselves for the day. A herd of spotted Deer lifted its heads in unison and gazed at the presently usual but unnecessary human intervention and while a pair of peacocks appeared and disappeared in moments, our guide pointed to some fresh laid pug marks of the big cat. It was the closest that we could manage to come to contact with this truly remarkable yet macabre beast. (I humbly beg pardon for a rather sardonic description of this royal creation, but I have done nothing more than attempt to descriptively bring about a mix of nature's perfection in beauty yet, the same beauty blended with raw brute force quite unimaginable in many respects)
The excitement and fervor had begun and the morning was one of the coldest I had ever braced since coming to Delhi. The rush of air blasting onto us due to speeding four wheel carrier was much like that of Ooty.
A few more minutes into the drive we stopped at a fallen tree overlooking a vast plain that looked more like a dried river bed with a heavy growth of tall jungle grass. A herd of Sambhar grazed nervously often breaking routine to gain a clear lookout for any lurking danger that would spring at them. And danger there certainly was! To the inexperienced and rather inferior human perception however, everything seemed in order until a Kakar barked in the distance and then bolted away from the scene of supposed action and all heads turned to the direction. However, an eventful series of happenings was unfolding quite a small distance away. And minutes later, I spotted a large reddish brown object hurl itself from one patch of grass into another! I know not what the object was but it was certainly something I had never seen before and was one that was full of life and determined force! I can only thank my flatmate Bodhi and his superb pair of Carl Ziess field lenses without which I would have never spotted that spur of the moment that the rest of the bunch had so unknowingly missed out on.
A mahout driven elephant had shooed the Tiger from its well concealed hold and this morning another hungry stomach walked on fours seeking a means of sustainence and survival.
Shortly afterwards we returned to our resort and settled in for lunch after which each one was lost in thought.
It is very difficult not to feel humbled when in the mighty expanse of nature. A moment comes when you realize that the human kind is a mere atom in the multitude of elements called creation. Having reached home in Gurgaon the next day, I was a content and happy man, a happy pilgrim rather. A sense of satisfaction of a dream having come true enveloped my inner core. To this day, I yearn to go back and I know I certainly will embark on many more pilgrimages to this Heaven on Earth. I pray to God that Blake's ominous lines do not come true for then our posterity would be robbed of this once in a lifetime privilege of capturing with the eye and film perhaps India's Royal pride and matter of venerable tribute.

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2005, A window into memories.

This photograph taken in front of the famed Hawa Mahal during my visit to Jaipur during March - April 2005 is a personal favourite.
The edifice was constructed in the year 1799 by HRH Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh.
Known to the rest of the world as the Palace of Wind this is an example of Rajput artistry made of red and pink sand stone, beautifully outlined with white borders and motif's painted with quick lime.This five-story, pyramid-shaped structure has tier after tier of 953 small casements, each with tiny lattice worked (Jali) pink windows.

This was snapped when LT decided to fixate himself one evening on the floor which he regarded as a much better option as compared to the chairs that made one feel the painful cramps one developes over a period of time due to long and tiring hours of sitting.

My dream of riding on a camel came true in the pristine greens of the Best Western Country Resort in Manesar on the 21st of August 2005.
This is thus another of my personal favorites among those shot in 2005.

This image was crystallized in front of the River Kosi which runs across the Corbett National Park and into a number of adjoining towns.
The scenic beauty of the place combined with the presence of many colleagues whom I worked with make it a memorable snap.
(L-R) Tarun, Mayank, Tammana, Randy, LT, Kunal & Me

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Ides of March.

Historically, the month of March has been an unwelcome harbinger of disaster in one form or the other. I have for some reason always hated March although I cannot to this day identify a reason associated to my vague yet daunting apprehension. In New Delhi much like many parts of the Indian peninsula, the commencement of March signalled the arrival of Summer which was by far the most intolerable time of the year bringing with it heat which makes human and animals lives a statistical figure consigned to the unkind annals of history.
Having rested well for a long drawn period of time, I itched to get back to work cautious not to be left out in the non-stop rat race. So when on the night 24rth February 2006, I decided to leave for Gurgaon, I was confident that I was ready to move ahead. I had enough of comfort and rest that I had quickly grown tired of it. Life itself becomes very painfully dreary when overdosed with a post-retirement type schedule especially at an age when career, wealth, growth and success occupy a staggering three-fourths of any thinking mind.
I reached my apartment in Gurgaon the next day, on the 25th after a long journey via Bangalore where I had caught up with Pree, Bajji and a couple of other friends after which I had come to a frightening few minutes to missing my flight.
Welcoming me back to Gurgaon was Vishal Samuel who had turned to become a very good friend of mine over a very short period of time. Not a day passes when I, on a friendly note, scoff him for his disposition that he exhibited during my initial days at Gecis. We had grown unusually close and discussed a lot of personal aspects that each faced in the other's life.
I lost no time realizing the fact that my days at home had sped past at an unusually manifested
rate of knots. Time it seems, is one commodity we can never exercise control upon atleast for a couple of years to come (if technology can at best be relied upon).
Reporting to work on the 1st day of March 2006 was a 'feeling' that requires elements beyond words to express and perhaps inexpressible even if I were to be in possession of those elements.
Friends and colleages did best to bring me into the 'flow'. I gather the best comment I had received upon arrival was from Namrata Bhardwaj, Kappu's wife who I fondly call Didi (sister in Hindi). She cheerfully remarked that I appeared to have undergone a brain surgery. True to her words, I had a very different perspective with crystal clear focus and a very different attitude altogether. If the after effect of 'being under the knife and on the table' did this to me, then I'd rather have a couple of more surgeries done! Twisted logic at its best I suppose.
In the vast expanse of Genpact, a huge lot had changed. Tony had left the organization late last year on having secured what was a lifetime opportunity and position at an organization based at the economic capital of India - Mumbai.
Lhakpa 'LT' Tsering a former colleague and now dear friend had also moved out of Genpact to lead the Tibetan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and now represented the Tibetan people and His Holiness The Dalai Lama in his cause for the long subdued nation which we all hope would soon be let loose from the clutches of its evil captor, the People's Republic of China. LT as we fondly addressed him made a huge mark in the lives of many people whom he came in contact with. So much was his personal charisma and ability that in my new role which I assumed on 01 May 2006, I came to realize that a few GE Healthcare Leadership personnel still recalled him fondly and with great respect. Our Director of Service (DoS) John Leidel once mentioned to me that he was perhaps one of the few people from across the Atlantic, who knew LT, who could actually pronounce his name 'Lhakpa' flawlessly.
There were numerous unfamiliar and new faces across our once closely knit Healthcare division of the Industrial and Equipment Center of Excellence (CoE). Hiring I was told was rampant aimed at confronting the ever rising attrition figures as a result of the constant churn in the work force. My priority at best was to return into the scence of action as early as possible and secure a strong foothold as I had long desired.
However, when I did return to being operationally functional, I realized that there was something amiss. I was perturbed and assumed that I had been rendered stagnant and incapacitated. I was constantly punishing myself for no reason or rhyme. Soon, I slipped into a depression that made me exhibit rudeness and rendered me restless and very irritable.
Fortunately, this sudden and unusual behaviour of mine was being noticed and those close to me became increasingly concerned and tried hard to determine a cause while I maintained a stony silence and with great difficultly attempted to do a volte-face.
I had completed a year in the organization on 22nd February 2006 in absentia and now that I was back, my yearly review (EMS) was due to be completed.
Perhaps, no other EMS in this entire organization had happened for such an extended period of time and with such deep analysis as was mine on a Saturday morning when Randy confronted me citing my newly adopted frame of mind. I must credit him a great deal for having personally taken so much time and focussed enormous amount of effort to take me back to track!
I needed to move on and many aspects and possibilities were being worked upon. Finally after much action I was on the 1st of May 2006 given the charge of handling the profile of the Field Service Administrator, GE Healthcare Technologies with a location of the North East Zone of the United States of America. Incidentally, Randy who had been a vital part of GEHC dispatches was also moving ahead into a new role. There was talk of a huge change in the Organizational pattern along with the possibility of many faces no longer being part of this illustrous venture.
Along with many friends and well wishers I rejoiced at my reward and began looking at life with a fresh perspective. A huge sense of achievement and relief made me overjoyed and almost instantly I saw unimaginably endless possibilties. Life had changed and for the good. Most of us fail to realize the element of life's control on every single one of us. We are truly at the mercy of time and its unravelling mixture of events. What we sometimes need to stop and accept is a fact that life is a genuine mix of rewards and rebukes both of which form a very essential part of any living being during the course of its existence.

At this juncture, I cannot help but publish one of the most motivation writings I have ever come across. Originally written by my friend Mr. VJ, I had made a copy of it since it inspired me more than anything else. I suggest you read through the following with a very open mind and then make the simplest of efforts to realize how easy it is to feel motivated and stay focussed.
VJ, I must thank you for this wonderful piece of work which I so much credit to your superior intellect and enriched experience.
VJ had originally titled it as "A question of Perspective." I see no reason whatsoever to make any alteration.

At times in life, one stops to re- examine if the steps one took were right or wrong.
What seemed right then, may now seem wrong in hindsight. Listening to the advice of family members or people known to you may have turned out to be hideously wrong. Advice is free, but the consequences are not. The consequences are your's to pay.
Every person is responsible for his actions. At the end of the day, it’s your life.
From my own life all I can say is this, learn to think for yourself. Have the courage to fight against people who oppose you. No matter how close or how dear they may be to you.
You should know your interests and how to stand for them. Being a martyr to someone else’s dreams or desires is no act of greatness, merely horrendous imbecility. With the courage of conviction, and an invincible faith in yourself and God set out on your path. The trials will be daunting, opposition trenchant and incessant. At times, you will want to give up. Energy may desert you, the mind may grow feeble. Despondency, depression and loneliness will be your constant companions. Yet, you will move on. Keep your mind open to changes, in people in circumstances. Learn to utilize both to your advantage. Learn to understand people, their strengths, weaknesses and ways of thinking. Do not look for acceptance, if you succeed it will come on its own.
Doors may close, opportunities turn into a mirage, faith may be betrayed but persevere. Slender may be the thread of hope, but remember it’s all you have when you are facing a crevasse.
Don’t let the thought of the rope snapping drive you to loosen your grip and plunge to destruction. Victory and defeat aren’t in your hands but if you consider yourself beaten, you are. No one, I repeat, No one can save a person from himself. Through the hours of struggle, the longer nights of loneliness, when you have none but your miseries to warm the cockles of your soul, do not let go. Convince yourself to face your sufferings, not by avoiding them, not by seeking to flee from dream to dream, not by seeking to escape from reality, but by looking them straight in the eye. Train all your energy to work as weapons in your struggle. Do not let the maelstrom of dedicated opposition weaken your resolve. Use your creative and other energies to fashion a new persona. The crucible of pain is unforgiving, but it produces the best steel. Then one day, the clouds will part, the sun will shine through. It will never seem possible, yet it is your belief in its coming which will make it possible. Its power is awe inspiring; your faith will give you the strength to reach it.
When the ordeal ends, your face bathed in the sunlight of success, of recognition, of acceptance, you will scarce believe that the struggle is over. Applause will follow, your life will change, and success will make all that happened seem a dream. The world will accept you as one of its own.The world loves the heroic story of the underdog who made it. His heroism is applauded, yet the same world excels at kicking the underdog while he was making the very same great story happen. When you look back at your path, you will wonder if all those lonely nights, those hopeless days were worth it. Others will have attained more than you would have and faced none of the problems you had to endure. Look at the faces which now smile at you in acceptance. Each one of these faces has experienced the beautiful afterglow of success. These faces have not faced the misery which you have faced and are the poorer for it. In order to appreciate the taste of sugar it is important to know the taste of salt. You have seen the different faces of human behavior and are the richer for it. Now ask yourself the question again …………The answer is self apparent.

Need I say more about life after these marvelous lines?

Monday, June 12, 2006

A beaten path to contentment.

On 8th December 2005, Dad turned 58. 38 of which he spent in Ooty and continues to remain there with unwavered passion and dedication to realize his lifetime objective of handling the family business which was established in the year 1966.
I called to wish him on the ocassion and hastened to end the call despite wanting to speak for a longer time. So when I disconnected I knew I had succeeded remarkably in something I do best - the remarkably infamous ability to mask my feelings with equally remarkable ease.
For on that day, also unravelling into the open was one of the most darkest secrets I have been carrying in me for a long long time.
Having realized a strange abnormality, I first began tracking its happening on 4th February 1994, which incidentally was my Mother's birthday. The abnormaility it seemed emanated from a severe pain in my lower abdomen which I could not attribute to any particular cause or reason. Having borne this relentless hurting, I was now thrown into a state of complete standstill and could not muster the effort or courage to summon myself to even think of taking a step forward - literally!
So, that morning, after my conversation with Dad, I decided to call 'Dr. Aditya Adi - Bubbles Kapoor', who is a very dear friend of mine and who had quite recently relocated back to his hometown - New Delhi. Adi suggested that I present myself at his clinic without any further delay and then with the help of Vishal Samuel, I managed to get admitted to a nearby hospital without any hope of this condition being cured. I had by then told myself that the end was imminent. Years of paranoia, coupled with self-excercised misinformed research on the internet had convinced me to believe without doubt that my condition was a result of cancerous growth in the lower abdomen. I hated the sight of a hospital let alone the prospect of being a guest in one. And this time I had no choice for I had to somehow find a means of curbing this killing pain despite whether my condition was curable or otherwise. I hadn't propped my self on the bed when an army of nursing assistants shepherded by a surgeon and a general physician trooped their way into my room and began what would be one of the worst moments of my life ever. I was constantly being referred to as a patient and subject, and my patience was wearing thin. Worse, canular needles found their way into my arms feeding me with so called 'vital' fluids all day long. The doctors had already decided to use most of the available antibiotic supply on me and thus began a process of turning me into a living storehouse of a dozen chemicals. I have never felt so sick ever in life, as I was during the 17 days of my forced-detention. After much humdrum I was told that a tissue had gone 'bad' due to an internal injury that happened a decade or so before. Promptly, a biopsy was scheduled to determine if the 'bad tissue' had turned malignant or if there actually was a possibility of it becoming cancerous. It was my first ever introduction to anesthesia. I demanded (rather foolishly) that I be administered local anesthesia which was stiffly rebutted. On the morning the biopsy was scheduled to happen, I was wheeled into the Operation Theater and 'connected' to a few appearingly menacing devices that glowed, beeped and displayed a number of gibberish which made little sense to me. Finally, after having determined that my vital signs permitted surgeons to cconduct a surgical intervention on my person, a vial of clear liquid was injected into me. A few minutes later, I began feeling weak and started breathing heavily. Among the last things I remember was the blood-pressure monitor loudly beeping an increase in my blood-pressure level, the systolic variable of which had zoomed to a whopping 230 mmHG (millimeters of mercury).
It was the first time ever that I was forced into a chemically induced slumber and the feeling of submission and cede gave way to absolute darkness. I felt as if I had been transported into a different world. Hues of green and red suddenly began to float in an endless void all of which would have normally made no sense. However, here was a situation that was far from normal atleast to me!
After the procedure had been successfully performed, I was roused back into reality and wheeled into the comforts of my room, where for once I slept peacefully beaten by the tiring effect of some powerful substance which had so successfully kept me from the terrible pain that accompanied the entire exercise. It would be a few hours before I would gain complete consciousness. During the time, I felt numb and even doing the most basic activity required triathlon effort. I realized that my speech was slow, slurchy and obscure and feared the prospect of losing it and the surgeon's repeated assurances did nothing to calm my extremely troubled self. However, when I was offered a dose of muscle relaxant which was nothing short of a sleeping drug, I vehemently refused. I decided to be strong and watch myself come 'around'.
The biopsy report indicated no presence of malignancy but it was decided to conduct a full scale procedure to remove the dead tissue as a measure of precaution.
Tired of the medical blitz that had rendered me a living stockroom of powerful and obnoxious compounds, I demanded to be released without any further medical intervention. These stupid quack doctors had not homed in onto the proximate cause and appeared to be treating the symptoms rather than address the main cause.
I must thank Adi, Col. Jetley (Anuj's father), Vishal, Randy, Bodhi, Kappu, my immediate colleagues, my friends from far and wide and family members in Delhi for having supported me in person and remotely every single moment and help me overcome the trauma of having been a guinea pig if nothing else. Also to specially mention Adi who insisted time and again that I wasn't being administered the right kind of treatment and Dr. Jaideep Sharma for having assertively confirmed this without the least possible doubt.
I made a decision to abruptly halt the medical exercise and made copies of all my reports which I then sent to a number of friends in the medical profession, all of whom confirmed that I needed to leave this hospital and seek a superior dignostic assistance.
I was driven back home on Christmas eve and immediately began feeling better. The next few days passed by without any activity at all. I had been grounded for not taking into confidence my friends and family members during the turn of events and many near and dear ones suspected much more than was told, with good reason that is.
I had lost quite a lot of weight and the toll of having spent a great deal of painfully ardous time in the harrowed hospital was showing on me. People displayed a sense of pity on seeing me and I felt meager and helpless all the while, when in the backdrop my friends did all they could to cheer me up. I had informed Mom about the entire incident on the second last day of my stay in the hospital and I assured her that all was well, she in turn was given the task of informing Dad in a very subtle manner. The coming of the new year signalled hope and relief from this long standing menace and I knew I would surpass the assault. For the 1st time in many years I was at home on New Year's eve. I needed the rest and having had a sound sleep I woke up to daylight on 01 January 2006 and wished my folks and friends a very happy new year. I was happy and finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I had decided to goto Ooty and consult with family physicans who I believed could handle te situation effortlessly a lot better than the morons who disguised themselves as doctors in this part of the nation.
On the morning of 04rth January 2006, I reached our home in Ooty. This was my first visit home after I had left for Delhi on 09th Febrauary 2005, a year earlier. I would be off work upto the end of February and was required to focus on rest and recuperation without any exertion at all. On meeting a family friend Dr. Brinda Indersen, I was promptly referred to Dr. Zaheer Ahmed, an old family friend who lost no time in scheduling a surgical procedure. In a single breath he dismissed all my medical records and shamed the so called corrective procedures that were administered on me during my hospitalization in Delhi. The last question Dr. Zaheer asked me that evening was if I was comfortable if I was administered Ketamine as an anesthetic. I pronounced my assent despite knowing hardly anothing about the drug. I was soon to realize that upon ingestion / administration in any form this drug would induce a sense of disassociation from the body resulting in one believing that the one is free from the hold of the body.
In a matter of days I had passed all medical procedures and was at the comforts of home. A long holiday lay ahead of me which I cherished although I had earned it for wrong reasons.
I felt relaxed and at ease for the first time in months and I decided not to tax my already wrecked mind with any turbulent thought.
On complete recovery, Mom requested that I travel with her to Kannur, Kerala which is from where I truly belong. Her elder brother, an uncle of mine, had been rendered paralysed due to a stroke and thankfully was recovering although very slowly. I had until meeting him believed that I had been in and out of one of the most savage episodes any living being could possibly undergo. I was wrong, gravely wrong. The sight of a full grown man lying helpless on a bed having to rely on others to do even the most basic chores of his day-to-day life was excruciatingly hideous. The sight humbled me like never before and I will never forget that no matter what one goes through, there are others that continue to, on a very routine basis, be subject to untold miseries.
"Some of the worst things in life are not intended to make you bitter, they happen so that you become better." Better with experience, better with good reasoning, better with having known what it has been to live in despair, better with knowing that you have lived the worst and have still survived for the better. Life is an unending series of examples and lessons.
Every single one of us is destined to undergo an abundant share of good and bad times alike and that is what seasons us and makes us better people. On a larger picture, perhaps life isnt as unfair as we accuse it to be, much of what happens to us is a result of our individual doing or undoing and we are the only masters of our own actions and their results.
Having gone through a relatively rather comparatively minor phase of turbulence in life, I've emerged self-effacing and definitely more sensible than ever before.
I now see a new zeal, a new purpose and a new beginning, one that truly would usher in a wholly fresh vista with a whole new dimension of promises with very vivid imagination.
Life is at its best when one surpasses a problem, not matter what the magnitude is. In the aftermath, one is left with limitless energy and zeal to better on the best.
Truly, on many an ocassion, times of tribulation can at best also be a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Moments of Oblivion!

It's the 24rth of August 2005. Six months and two days have passed by since I joined Gecis. A lot has changed and very fast. The day started off much like many others except today, I knew atleast one thing that was supposed to happen. Having completed six months in the organization I now stood to be a confirmed employee of this 20000+ strong venture which was making huge strides globally.

Sadly, amidst all these monumental moments of happiness, the sad demise of Pree's father was a tragic turn of incidents. I first met the man months after he assumed position of the Deputy Collector of Ooty. Having spent a great deal of time in Ooty and its suburbs and keeping in mind Aunty's health which continued to be disturbed by the sometimes irritable claimatic condition of Ooty, he subsequently left for Coimbatore to lead the State Government's mission in the district before his retirement in the year 2004 after which he decided to call Kerala home.
I fondly recall the morning of January 21st, 2005 when Uncle rang, asking me to visit Trichur, Kerala for a few days. While I was overwhelming busy and stuck with my impending 'tour-of-duty' in Delhi, I curtly declined and offered to make a visit sometime in the recent future. To which Uncle replied that he might never get a chance to see me again. Alarmed and deeply disturbed at the sudden remark, I made a split second decision to visit Trichur. I must say that this visit was one I would remember forever as one of my most enoyable moments in life ever. I thank Uncle for making this happen and would forever remain indebted to him and the immediate family for having considered me as their own son, many a times much more dearer than many in the family!
All that came to a gripping end on the morning of August 16, 2005. That rainy morning, while I slept fitfully, Pree's call mentioning the 'end' rendered me motionless and in tears.
We lost him to an acute renal failure which was as a result of Cirrhosis of the Liver. Coming to terms with this happening to someone who had not once contemplated on tasting even a drop of alcohol was in itself a huge effort. Life is known to be most unfair to people who have valued it the most and have concetrated all their efforts and means in living in the line of values and integrity.
It's hard not to break apart at the loss of a man many regarded as one the finest they had ever met. Uncle devoted his life for others. In his position of Deputy Collector Ooty & Coimbatore he initiated many a welfare scheme that guranteed the uplifitment of many thousands of people that this nation sheltered, those people who had nothing to call their own, those people who formed a large part of the masses that despite huge in numbers, were yet to be blessed with a decent livelihood. A man who stood tall in achievements and stature and toiled selflessly to make the lives of others more meaningful and pronounced in comfort and dared a Chief Minister in doing so, he was loved by people he knew and did not all alike. His loss will forever be mourned and the void his absence has created will never ever be filled. I thank God for having bestowed on me the rarest of rare privileges of having known him and been a significant part of his life.
May his legacy continue for eons to come.

In office, Randy called to tell me that my confirmation letter was being readied and would be handed to me anytime now.
I cannot describe in words the Presidential feeling which swept me when Randy handed me my confirmation letter. Small as it may seem, this was another milestone, one of many that now stood behind me. I had shifted to Gurgaon and now stayed a few drivable minutes away from my place of work with a colleague - Bodhiswatto 'Bodhi' Roy.
Almost immediately after becoming operational I along with my immediate colleagues travelled to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, popularly known as the pink city. It was a very memorable trip and I jumped at the sight of the architectural beauty of the place which rendered it world-famous. Overjoyed at the sight of such awe-inspiring magnificence, I lost no time in capturing images that would last a lifetime.
Kapil 'Kappu Gameboy' Bhardwaj and Anuj Jetley were two bosom buddies of my flatmate I came to know and respect. While Kappu works for Gecis as an Asst. Manager, Anuj had completed a stint of 2 years with Gecis and was long gone even before I became part of the organization. I would later put to practise many an idea which I learnt from Kappu and Anuj and not surprisingly, these most-certainly yielded what I most wanted - instant results. While I respect Anuj for his remarkable sense of maturity and extensively broad outlook, Kappu has a very rare aptitude of being ultra-focussed on the way in which he directs his thoughts to result in positive actions. Someone who thinks very meticulously and acts accordingly. I sometimes wonder with awe the time and the effort that was put into one simple strategy game, to master it and then start the process all over again. These people had clearly crossed a realm and now lived in an altogether different paradigm.
Theres talk of a name change in Gecis, unconfirmed reports suggested that the new name would be Genpact. My immediate reaction was to glare at my microchip enabled yellow swipe Identification card with the logo of General Electric on it. Would we be able to retain the logo with the new name on the new cards that would imminently issued to us? Possibly not. And that was a disappointing prospect especially considering the fact that the name and the emblem mattered a whole lot to a good number of people at Gecis. Anuj decided to quit Gecis only four days after a similar name change that rendered GE into becoming Gecis or GE Capital International Services. He simply did not want to be part of a diluted organization and decided to explore better and promising prospects.
Vishal 'Capt. Val Ross' Bhargav was another Gecis veteran I met. He had moved to a different organization only months before I began my stint in Gecis. Someone with an acutely mature taste for music and perfection, Val hails from the pristine hills of Solan, a perfect blend of nature's exquisite work of fine art combined with one of the most inviting and hospitable weather man could enjoy.
Contrarily, the onslaught of a very spiteful weather continued all day long in Delhi and its suburbs and the prospect of a monsoon remained a long journey away. I squirmed and cursed and remembered Ooty every passing minute while the hot winds swirled places with loads of dust flying around everywhere.
Vineet 'Designer Dude' Sharma moved to stay with us sometime in September. Originally from Chandigarh, this superlost soul had decided to venture into Gecis to draft a career. His levels of creativity and dexterity with hands and mind alike in designing smart automobiles is perhaps very unseen and in many cases unparalleled. He looked at life with a different view altogether and I must confess, I felt his 'perspectives' a little nerve-racking myself. You have to meet him to believe me. And should you ever decide to visit his website ( ), don't miss a seemingly well construed warning that reads "Don't copy my stuff, else you will be beaten to death". What contradicts this wildly savage statement is the dude's personality itself. It's hard to imagine that this 'kid' in his early 20s who appeared calmer than many other people, could have a very different line of thought, let alone a line of sight.
Remember, how I told you a few posts earlier, how looks could be very deceptive? This is just another instance, one of the many I must say.
Shortly afterwards, Anuj decided to move to London to pursue further studies and all of us who knew him, me being the one who knew him the least perhaps, immediately felt a void!
Before he left for the United Kingdom, he gave me a book I had long wanted to make my own. One that I had heard about since eternity. Atlas Shrugged written by the renowned yesteryear's philosopher and author Ayn Rand was without doubt one of the best birthday gift's I have received as yet.
9125 days of having walked this planet, I now entered into a new year, a year with unending prospects and anticipation like never before.
I turned 26 without much realization!

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Road to GE

17th February 2005, like many dates, remain one that is very significant in my life for it was on this day that I decided to pay a visit to the famed Gecis, the BPO arm of General Electric popularly known by perhaps two of the most recognizably famous letters of the English alphabet; GE
The letters etched in scripted font encircled in trademark black / blue signified raw power, overwhelming presence and true business accomplishment across the globe all alike. All the more intriguing is the fact that despite the size of this mammoth conglomerate, it seems to have made an impact in the lives of people from all spheres and strata alike. After all, the names of Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt light the minds of any prospective innovator. And although I would not dare call myself an innovator, I was one in many ways!
Therefore, I set out to locate 22B that morning in the hope to catch a glimpse of this outsourcing monolith which had made waves across the nation.
The drive from any part of Delhi to the buzzing ITES capital of the North, is in itself a ride to take. An estimated 150,000 vehicles of many shapes and sizes make their way in an out of this city every single day. While the very thought itself remains very amazing, the roads remain perpetually packed with a long line of vehicles snaking and honking their way carrying their contents to the intended destination. An hour into the drive I set foot into Gurgaon. The surrounding background is many contradictions imprinted into reality. While the dusty roads give way to the serene acres of mustard plantations, one is thrust into the life-size architecture of elegantly designed high-rise edifices that boast the names of some of the most outstanding names in the corporate sector.
When at last I did reach Sector 18 which accommodates 22B along with many similar establishment, I must confess my slight disappointment. I expected to see the conspicuous insignia plastered on the face of this enterprise, but there was none on display. Worse still, there was no billboard that implied that I had reached my destination. It was thus no surprise when I queried the guard manning the entrance thrice if I had reached my intended destination, much to his displeasure!
The clock in the security room announced a few minutes past 10:00 am and I spoke to a person gazing intently into the screen of his terminal without looking at me. And when he finally did turn to me a few moments later, all he did was wave me to a row of chairs a few paces away. The cubbyhole security center became my place of wait for the next half hour after which I was escorted into the building and given another place to ease myself into. Words such as leadership, integrity, values, ecoimagination, customer centricity and focus were boldly emblazoned on every available wall.
Waiting was something I had no personal taste for and thus resulted a few cups of strongly brewed black coffee.
About an hour later I was approached by a lady who like many others pronounced my second name with much difficulty. The exercise of determining my 'suitability' to be a part of this organization had begun and concluded about an hour later on a very positive note.
It was well past midday before I actually met anyone who would tell me anything related to the kind of 'profile' I would be attached to. And that was Sameer Khetrapal, a very unassuming man who appeared to be someone with a number of things on his mind. After a few minutes of straight-talking, he picked up a stick-on and scrawled his name and number, handed it to me and led me to an adjoining building where from he 'operated'. It was an untold sign that I had made it to the next level but unknown to me a protracted wait had begun and I was beginning to feel impatient especially when a digital display flashed that it was a staggering 5.5hrs past noon.
Sameer, I was later told, had been a part of the American Space agency, NASA and was at the time Asst. Vice President - Operations with Gecis. It was not the first time I realized that looks could be very deceptive.
My series of interviews and meetings with atleast six other people lasted for a couple of hours and before I left for home, I still had no concrete answer if I had 'made it'.
All I was told was that I was being more time to consider my decision of wanting to be a part of this organization. Now, that seemed strange. Why would someone offer me time to consider a decision which I had so definitely decided upon. Stranger it seemed when I was asked to present myself on the 21st, which was four long days away. Suddenly, I felt weak. Anxiety and confusion gripped my core. I lost all track of time while the immediate surrounding was bustling with fanatical activity. Pacing around, I was stunned when I realized that it was well past the evening and into the night. I decided to leave for home and finally when I did reach home it was past midnight and a new day had begun, but my uneasiness refused to die down.
Thankfully, I had neither the effort nor the determination to introspect and besides a breather of 4 days perhaps assured me that I had enough time to restructurize if need be.
Waking up at daybreak, I realized that I was feeling no better instead my anxiety began to peak to disproportionate levels. I had to 'look within'.
Without wasting much time I spoke to an elder cousin; Vikas, who with good reason was regarded as a shining example of success in the family. After a patient hearing of my word-by- word account all he remarked was "We will talk about this when I return". This made me feel numb. What had I done? Thoughts raced in my mind at the speed of light and now I was left with nothing more than the days newspaper, the television and a very friendly Scooby, the well mannered Labrador who dutifully assured to be my companion for the day.
Phew, I was paranoid and prepared myself for a full-scale nervous breakdown.
The weekend came all too soon and I was devoid of answers. Vikas seemed engrossed in work and hardly spent time away from his laptop. I thought it best not to be persistent and made a compelling effort to read Margaret Mitchell's celebrated work of art; Gone with the Wind.
It was a marathon effort to read even a few lines. My mind was overwhelmed and I discovered my disability to concentrate. I shamefully realized my inability to attain the sublime level of relaxation which I so necessarily needed.
When Vikas finally decided to talk, he made me repeat my tale. After a very patient hearing he declared that I had no reason to worry and that I go back with the same levels of confidence and present my case with no modification what so ever. Surprisingly, I had subconsciously decided that this was the best course of action. If only ones assumptions justified facts, this whole world would never have existed in the first place. Seemingly easy to settle in, I still fail to understand why I had not accepted this mental response as a convincing answer. Why did I need someone to tell me what I already knew?
So when 21st of February finally dawned bringing the appointed time, I walked head held high with an air of confidence and assertiveness like never before. I was never so sure of myself before, as I was this day. Anyone who would have delved into me that day possibly mistook my poise and disposition for arrogance. Tejinder 'Tony' Hara and Rohit 'Randy Gold' Goel both prospective managers of mine entered into a final session of tripartite talks with me. Interestingly, Tony shared with me his stint with the Indian Army from where he moved on to the training school of the National Security Guard, India's elitest Commando Force and how later embarked upon training the Anti-Hijack Squad of the NSG. Randy, I was told was a veteran with Gecis for a long time.
I was asked if I had reviewed my decision and if I had any new found reservations to which I replied with an emphatic 'NO'. I handled every query with supreme confidence and renewed conviction.
A quick 20 odd minutes later, Tony demanded to know how soon I could join and in one breath I shot "How about tomorrow?". "Tomorrow it is then" came the answer with a firm handshake and a warm smile. I had accomplished my mission! After I secured the necessary documentation that assured me of my being part of this venture, I left for home.

Unknown to me, I was about to embark on a long journey filled with experiences of ultimate proportions. A journey that would change me in a number of ways and shape me as I move forward in life. A journey so overwhelming that I had no idea of its resultant impact.
As I watched the passing traffic on my way back home, I knew I had crossed a milestone of significant importance.
A music player in the cab blared a Hindi number beamed from one of the many radio stations active in the frequency, over the clamor of constant chatter being emitted from an adjoining wireless transceiver.
I needed a good-night's sleep. It was a long time since I enjoyed one.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hope drives a man insane!

For those of you who haven't heard it word to word, this is the legendary line from the film Shawshank Redemption. I watched the flick a few years ago and life changed. It epitomizes the significance of hope when and where there isn't the remotest possibility of finding it.
I still wonder what that little something was that soothed my senses and soul all alike but nevertheless, sooth it did and calm it most definitely instilled.
(I suggest you watch the 1994 Stephen King flick starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler and crew)

"Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free!" Thus advocates the theme of this incredible movie. However, on the morning of 16th February 2005, fear had enveloped me in implausible proportions and hope was the last thing on my mind although I needed it the most. Fear, that I would not realize my dream of being a part of a super-perfect organization, fear, that I had chosen the wrong destination, fear that I had my focus misdirected and muddled in a deluge of confusion, fear of this, that and what not! Contrary to the initial success at Wipro which should have boosted my confidence and given me a thrust to move forward as many people would ordinarily have, I was riddled with doubts, apprehension and bewilderment.

I hoped to be a part of that perfect system that I always dreamed about, about that system where no flaw ever creeped in, a fool-proof yet realistic organization which was around the corner. With thoughts being processed at a million instructions per nano-second I was on the move trying to locate a very non-descript address in Essex Farms where at 10:00 am my interview was scheduled to happen with the Human Resource personnel of Convergys India Services, yet another BPO which has quite a prominent reputation in Bangalore, the ITES Capital of India.

Saurav Banerjee is a name I would not forget for a long time to come. After a good start, introduction rounds past, with ample focus on what the organization was looking for and how I would fit in the 'larger picture', it was increasingly becoming clear that I was 'onboard', so, when Saurav asked what I thought was the outcome of the interview about three fourths of an hour later, I was stern in my answer; "If I am not selected, I think this whole exercise was a massive waste of time." I could not help laughing out loud along with Saurav at my own comment. Immediately afterwards Saurav uttered "Welcome aboard" to which I responded with a curt but genuine Thanks. I respect Saurav for his clairty of thought and his display of absolute professionalism and when I walked out of the temperature controlled office into Delhi's scorching and unwelcoming open to summon a means of transport back home, I pondered on whether I made a commitment, on whether I would be happy to respect that commitment to myself, the organization and Saurav. While Convergys seemed a good opening to chart the start of a career, I told myself that I would need more time to think and decide on the next course of action. Having reached home later that evening, I dutifully filed the offer letter I received from Convergys, which I hold to this day and certainly many more to come. My own face stared back at me and our eyes met and remained transfixed for a short while which seemed like a long time. I had to decide and decide fast. But, something stopped me from pronouncing my assurance. And then I realized that deep within, I wanted more, the greed to better on the best, the hunger to venture deeper and farther, the craving for excess. In total darkness minutes before descending into a bottomless slumber, I knew I had a long way forward. Robert Frost and his famed creation crossed my mind.

Too weary to jog the lines hidden deep in memory, I attempted to vaguely recollect the last line. "And miles to go before I sleep................................................"

Hope, and the ensuing quest for a superior avenue, coupled with even a mild vein of optimism that the task at hand can be realized, is actually a very powerful sensation. One that truly drives a person insane.